'Crystal Methodist' banned from financial services sector

The former church minister and chair of the Co-Operative Bank nicknamed the Crystal Methodist after he was found to be using drugs and male escorts has been banned from the financial services sector by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Paul Flowers leaves Leeds Magistrates' Court May 7, 2014.He pleaded guilty to possessing illegal drugs.Reuters

Paul Flowers was at the bank's helm until June 2013 when it nearly collapsed after a £1.5 billion hole in its balance sheet appeared. He was grilled by MPs and failed to give clear answers to many questions, with one committee member describing him as 'a thoroughly inadequate witness...either economical with the truth or plain incompetent'.

A Mail on Sunday video revealed he had bought crystal meth and cocaine and had attempted to buy ketamine.

He was removed from Methodist ministry in January 2017 after a disciplinary process was delayed due to his ill-health.

He had admitted 'seriously impairing the mission, witness or integrity of the Church' after the Mail on Sunday's exposé. He said: 'You had nights when you had been battling through the issues of the day, then the senior officers had to entertain the troops in the evening and I was bloody well worn out. That was part of the job, but you were knackered. And like many thousands of other people – judges, lawyers, journalists, people of all professions and none – I sought intimacy among escorts,' he said at the time.

The FCA said Flowers had 'demonstrated a lack of fitness and propriety required to work in financial services'.

He had also used his work email account for sexually explicit messages and to discuss illegal drugs.

'Flowers failed in his duty to lead by example and to meet the high standards of integrity and probity demanded by the role,' said Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA.